Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand is an amazing travel destination for families. It offers something for all family members, from soft adventure activities to opportunities for cultural exploration. The great thing about travelling to Chiang Mai as a family, is that the local culture here is so kid-friendly. Kids are welcomed everywhere, and always with a warm smile 🙂 Based on years of taking families around northern Thailand, here are our Top 10 Things to do with kids in Chiang Mai.
1. Siam Insect Zoo
Is an interactive, educational and fun experience for creepy crawly lovers. It hosts an impressive collection of live insects and specimens from the insect world. From scorpions to beetles, it’s great for kids, as you don’t only see insects in a glass encasement, but can pick up specimen boxes, and there’s even a small selection where you can hold live ones on your hand! A guided tour is available where a staff member will show you around and offer explanations about the different insects. For more info visit – Siam Insect Zoo
2. Tiger Kingdom
Chiang Mai’s Tiger Kingdom, offers the unique chance to get up close to these beautiful animals, where you go can inside a tiger’s enclosure, stroke and have your picture taken with one. It’s free to walk around the park, but to enter the enclosures there are different prices and packages depending on if you want to see the cubs, medium or large tigers.
3. Bua Tong ‘Sticky’ Waterfalls
There are many beautiful waterfalls in the outlying countryside of Chiang Mai. A popular one is Bua Tong waterfall, otherwise known as ‘sticky waterfalls’ due to the natural formation of limestone which makes the waterfall ‘sticky’ and therefore easy to climb.The whole family can enjoy playing in the water amidst beautiful scenery and lush nature.
4. Night safari
Located 30 minutes south-west of Chiang Mai city, and inspired by the famous Night Safari in Singapore, the Chiang Mai Night Safari is home to several exotic nocturnal animals such as leopards, tigers and lions. You can marvel at these beautiful creatures, from an open-sided tram which makes a circuit through different trails, and offers guided explanations over a speaker system.
The night safari is also open in the day time, and equally as fun. There is a day time walking trail where you can see a variety of animals from hippos and ostriches. There is also an air-conditioned indoor soft play area, and for older kids, an outdoor covered playground with slides and play structures for older kids.
5. Art in Paradise museum
Art in Paradise is a modern, and fun museum which is an ideal place for kids of all ages to visit in Chiang Mai. This interactive museum features more than 130 amazing 3d paintings, where you can pose as part of the life size 3d artworks, to create surreal and funny images, such as running away from King Kong or driving a gondola in Venice. Whichever 3d scene, a visit to Art in Paradise will surprise with a lot of great pictures, and is sure to make the whole family laugh.
6. Elephant sanctuary
Elephants are one of Chiang Mai’s biggest attractions. Historically, they were used as work animals in the forest for Thailand’s once burgeoning logging industry, but the destruction of their natural habitats over the years, led to the decline of the elephant population, and in turn, gave rise to elephant tourism in Thailand.
The unique chance to get up close and personal with these beautiful giant mammals, is undoubtedly a once in a lifetime experience that adults and children will treasure. The ethics surrounding elephant tourism and which elephant camp to visit, are complicated. However, there’s plenty of information and opinions about this topic online, from which to draw research and form your own opinions.
7. Huay Tung Tao Lake
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and get out into the nature, this is a great place to escape. Located about 30 minutes drive from the city. Huay Tung Tao Lake is a huge man made reservoir, where you can swim, fish or just lie down and enjoy the beautiful surrounding nature. It’s needless to say the kids will enjoy the water and vast open green space. It’s a nice place for a relaxing lunch, by the water’s edge are bamboo huts, from which you can sit and order food, from any of the nearby restaurants. There are some shaded areas around the lake where it’s nice to take a stroll or ride a bike, bikes are available for hire at the entrance of the lake.
8. Indoor Play Areas
If you want to stay cool for a few hours, Chiang Mai offers several great indoor air-conditioned play areas for kids. All major shopping malls such as Central Festival, Maya and Kad Suan Gaew have one, as do the big supermarkets, Big C and Tesco Lotus Supermarket. Just remember to bring socks for both parents and kids to be allowed inside.
9. Hill tribe villages
For a cultural experience, why not get out into the countryside, to discover northern Thailand’s Hilltribes? These are ethnic minority groups that traditionally live in mountainous areas, each with their own unique culture, customs and language. There are around seven different hill tribe groups (Karen, Hmong, Akha, Lisu, Lahu, Mien, Palaung).
A common scene in any hill tribe village is that of young children playing in the dirt together, dogs and pigs roam, whilst grandmothers smoke pipes on the front terrace, as a chicken clucks its way by. It’s a cultural delight, to simply watch how daily life goes by in a village. Why not stay longer, and spend an overnight in a village? Staying at a hilltribe homestay is a once on alifteime cross cultural experience to be shared as a family.
Imagine wacthing and learning about how a hill tribe family live and work, sharing daily rituals together such as cooking over a fire pit, eating rice wrapped in a leaf, waking up to the sound of chickens, participating in househould chores such as feeding the pigs, or visiting the family’s rice farm. In our experience it’s a cultural eye-opener for both parents and children, and a life changing event. We can arrange homestays in Chiang Mai province or in more remote areas.
10. Go Beyond Chiang Mai
Travel Beyond Chiang Mai, into the hinterlands of rural northern Thailand, and here you will find endless opportunities for cultural adventure. There’s plenty to keep the kids interested, from the pristine nature and waterfalls, to animals and friendly locals. The further you go the more authentic it gets, and if you have several days, it’s worth trying to get to Chiang Rai or Mae Hong Son province – one of the least touristic places left in Thailand. The best part of this, is that travelling outside the tourist bubble of Chiang Mai, lets you discover together as a family, what the real northern Thailand is about. To find out how you can do this, just contact us